Final’s in, 29 demands out
Tomorrow starts three days of input on a bill to let the ship operate while a study is done
STORY SUMMARY »
State lawmakers' final draft of the Superferry-savior bill rejects the 29 conditions that environmentalists and ferry opponents had demanded be part of any measure to keep the boat afloat.
Interisland Road Show
The state Senate plans the following hearings on the draft Superferry bill:
» Kauai: Tomorrow, 2 p.m., in the King Kaumualii Elementary School cafeteria
» Maui: Monday, 3 p.m., in the Baldwin High School auditorium
» Big Island: Tuesday, 3 p.m. at Kealakehe High School in Kona
Legislators unveiled the final draft of the bill yesterday and noted that while the environmentalists' demands were not included, the proposed law includes about 20 new pages that reference Hawaii environmental impact law.
The bill would allow the Superferry to restart service to Kauai and Maui while the state does a months-long study of the environmental impact of the interisland service.
The bill comes after Maui Judge Joseph Cardoza ruled this month that the ferry Alakai could not operate until the study was completed. Superferry officials say the business cannot survive being idle for months.
The next step for the bill is an interisland road show with public hearings beginning tomorrow on Kauai, then Maui and the Big Island before Wednesday's start of the planned special session to consider the bill.
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The state Senate will travel to three neighbor islands starting tomorrow to unveil a proposed bill to override a Maui judge's ruling and allow the Superferry to operate.
Final Draft PDF
To download the final draft of the bill, click here.
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Lawmakers will begin their hearings tomorrow on Kauai, where demonstrators took to the water in August to block the Superferry Alakai from docking in Nawiliwili Harbor.
At a public informational meeting on Kauai last month, Gov. Linda Lingle and Superferry officials were met by boisterous protesters who shouted down and booed the governor and other pro-ferry speakers.
Jimmy Trujillo, spokesman for the Kauai protest group Hui-R, said he expects the legislators to receive a much different reception at tomorrow's meeting.
While "a big crowd" is expected, he said he expects the meeting to be "a lot different" and much less acrimonious.
"It's my understanding (legislators) are looking for input," Trujillo said yesterday. "That's welcomed."
By comparison, Trujillo quipped, Lingle "came to preach the gospel according to her corporation."
All the Superferry protesters want, he added, is the state law applied to the Superferry as it is applied to everyone.
"We ask that HRS 343, Chapter 5 be followed," Trujillo continued, meaning that the ferry would have to sit idle until an environmental study is done. "It's not an unreasonable request."
However, the final draft of the bill released yesterday would allow the Alakai to provide interisland service to Kauai and Maui while the state studies the environmental impact of the ship.
To become law, the bill must be adopted by the state Legislature, which Lingle is expected to call into a special session starting Wednesday. The public hearing on Kauai is the first of three to be held before the session. On Monday, the Senate will take testimony on Maui at 3 p.m. at Baldwin High School auditorium. The final hearing will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Kailua-Kona at Kealakehe High School cafeteria.
"It is somewhat unusual for us to be doing this kind of road show, if you will, for a bill scheduled to be heard by the Legislature," Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said in a news release. "But this is an unusual bill under unusual circumstances. The Senate feels strongly that those who will be directly affected should have an opportunity to be heard."
The new draft of the bill does not contain any of the 29 conditions that were recommended by Maui environmentalists earlier this week. But it does include about 20 new pages that reference the Hawaii environmental impact law.
The new portions spell out what an environmental impact statement for the Superferry must include, how the statement would be prepared and the areas that must be covered. For instance, the bill says the EIS must estimate population and growth impacts.
"An evaluation (must be) made of the effects of any possible change in population patterns or growth upon the resource base, including, but not limited to land use, water, and public services," the bill reads.
Judge Joseph Cardoza gave Maui environmentalists and ferry opponents a victory this month when he ruled that state law dictates the ship cannot operate until an environmental study is done. The proposed legislation allows the ship to resume service while the impact statement is being performed.
The bill includes a list of environmental conditions for the ship's operation during the impact statement period and a task force to observe the ship's environmental performance.